Current Events: Playing catch up …

Okay, I haven’t posted in a very very long time. (My English teacher said never to use “very very”, choose extremely or some other word).  Not that I haven’t wanted to, but I don’t always have the time and I am easily distracted.  I get a topic in my head and decide that’s what I’m going to post, but I forget about it when I get home or whatever, it just never gets done.  So!  Here are the current events and hopefully I don’t forget anything.

Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO): I went to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to do a New Year’s Eve show with Fosterchild.  This was to perform for the troops at GTMO, the world’s oldest Naval base …  It’s beautiful down there.  It was more like a vacation than a job.  What I bring back the most was snorkeling … I enjoyed that very much as I’d never done it before.  The water was so salty that it was effortless to float, but nearly impossible to dive.  Coral was very sharp, but I saw fishies!  We played two shows, one New Year’s Eve and another two days later … We toured the entire facility – yes, the entire facility and they were clear that they wanted the things we saw be shared with everyone when we came back.  They showed us “Camp X-ray” (which was only open for 70-90 days) where the detainees were held  in 2003 and all the media photographs depict when referring to GTMO.  This camp is grown over with grass and weeds and hasn’t been used since.  They showed us Camps 4, 5, and 6 which become more restrictive as you go.  We saw what the detainees were provided in the way of clothing and things to pass their time.  How theirs customs are respected and attended to.  It was certainly an experience all in itself.

Bo Bice: On a lighter note (whew!) … American Idol’s fourth season runner up to Carrie Underwood was also performing at Guantanamo Bay as well.  We even shared the 30 seat plane ride with him to the island.  There was a problem with his sound guy’s passport, so he was left at the airport in Florida.  Because of this fact, I performed double duty on New Year’s Eve day by sound checking Bo Bice at their venue and then going to the venue where Fosterchild was playing and complete that sound check.  Bo Bice played that night with Tony, the electrician who is assigned to setup and break down PA systems at GTMO and his crew.  I also had a monitor guy who worked with Tony’s department.  It was a Venue system, and the next day, New Year’s Day they moved that entire show to another part of the base that is their outdoor movie theater and I was able to sound check and come back and mix that show.  So, on New Year’s Day 2011 (1/1/11), I mixed Bo Bice in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – and I got his autograph.

I better get this posted now, more later …

Problems Update

Regarding Verizon.Net :: A change on the PF firewall’s rule set.  Forever the bridge was never in the ruleset and everything seemed to work just fine.  Finally, because of the proper testing environment, found out it was my own problem all along.  Added rules to address the bridge interface directly.  Those rules never seemed to have been needed before … or were they?

Regarding the Wireless Router :: I gave up on it as the MBP17 acted flaky since I unplugged the hard wire …  The MBP15 seemed okay with it and remained logged in to IRC room on #pf (which is where I was seeking firewall help) and I guessed at the bridge rule … It happened to work … Anyway, I plugged the cables back in and I think I’m going to try the router that I originally bought that fixed all the problems before …  Last resort is to buy Apple’s wireless router.

Now digging through all old email, etc and finding email addresses that I need to send an update to … It seems I haven’t sent a newsletter since 2007 .. Hmpf!  Well, no new is good news, right?

Sometimes I cause my own problems … really!

A quick update to let you know how Andy Reid and I are alike … I’ve goofed.

Number 1: I thought the Internet was slow from the new connection and called service to have it diagnosed.  All the while placing the blame on them, it was I who had coded in the firewall rules the throttling for the old T1.  After I changed the values to reflect the much higher speed that is now available, lo and behold it smokes now.

Number 2: While poking in the firewall I started thinking about my Verizon woes again and decided to try to tackle this once again since this problem of not being able to connect has plagued me through 3 or 4 Internet connections.  For the first time I was able to connect through my connection, but not through my firewall.  With my firewall “opened up” for the mail server, it still will not work over the bridge.  I can telnet to hotmail perfectly fine and then in the very next command watch telnet time-out to Verizon.net.  I feel that I’m closer to a solution though as I now have something to go by and it’s been my fault all along.  So I should take down my “Verizon Sucks” post?

Number 3: The post that’s gotten the most comments here was about the Mac and the Self Assigned IP.  While not everyone has used my solution, they’re thanking me for the posting of someone else’s solution.  That’s fine.  Since my solution was a Belkin router, when I started to move things over to the new location I bought the very same router.  Shortly into my Internet usage, the wireless signal would be lost after a certain amount of time.  Not the IP problem, just connectivity.  Weird.  I made sure that the configurations were the same with original router and this new one.  They were.  I couldn’t figure it out, so I hard-wired and it’s been that way ever since.  For some reason I went in the router recently and noticed the Firmware Update.  It was two releases behind.  I upgraded the firmware, popped out the network cables and have been wireless ever since.  Did the newer router come purchased with an older firmware?  I won’t know until I check  the old router, but if I were a betting man …

You learn something new everyday.  I’m not entirely opposed to admitting when I’ve done something wrong, but I sure thought in the first two cases that I was right.  The last here is an honest mistake I think …  What say you?

Rails is off track without Ruby …

So I’ve been doing my thing.  Trying to get the gist of it all and get things in place, working, etc … and then they start with this Rails 3.0 stuff that it doesn’t seem I can run …

What I mean is, developers seemed to have moved on to Rails 3 but I don’t understand how.  I decided, okay, it’s an RC (Release Candidate) so I’ll take the plunge and install it on a public server and start developing.  Welp, Rails 3 requires ruby 1.9.2 far as I know and I can’t get that installed successfully in a FreeBSD environment when the latest ruby is 1.8.7 (2009-12-24 patchlevel 248) (which currently has a UTF-7 encoding XSS vulnerability in WEBrick.) … sure 1.9.2 will install, but it doesn’t install a “ruby” binary, it’s called ruby19 and you have to symlink or copy it to “ruby” … Why?

Can you run rvm on a production server?  Would you?  Why?

In Rails defense, their website isn’t advocating a new release nor to install it, yet touts how many people are running it in production already …  Bah!  Cutting edge.

In other words, I think there’s just still too much stuff up in the air to actually try to massage Rails 3 into place before the rest of the world is ready for it.  I mean, Rails isn’t the only thing in my servers that use ruby …

… A couple hours later UPDATE: Ruby 1.9.2 Released

If you’re a Mac, you’re a PC …

A PC is defined literally as a Personal Computer.  If you’re using a Mac, you’re using a personal computer.  The Mac vs. PC commercials are obviously Microsoft vs. Apple commercials, and they’re spot on when put in that context.  But why confuse everyone thinking that “PC” is a bad thing?  Or “PC” is the derogatory term that has opposite connotations than “Mac” …  I mean, don’t get me wrong, as a computer professional since the mid eighties, I have found my place in the Mac world.  I find myself utterly and completely more productive and enjoying my environment and experience 100 times more.  I was in misery at the hands of Microsoft products.

Probably many people don’t know that before Microsoft, it was an IBM world and the PC had become known as an “IBM Compatible.”  At that time we also had the Commodore, Apple ][ and Franklin.  Franklin was an Apple ][ clone and were sued by Apple.  Result being, you don’t see any Franklins around, do you?

People also probably don’t know that the CPUs in the first IBM computers were AMDs.  Seems that AMD came late to the game to most people, but my IBM XT had a 4.77Mhz AMD chip installed in it, and I used the “Tiny Turbo” to up that baby to a whopping 8Mhz.  I imagine Intel struck a deal early on with IBM and that’s how they cornered the CPU market as well as Microsoft pushing IBM’s PC-DOS out of existence with MS-DOS.

But, is it just me?  Someone like me that knows all the history of the little boxes and where they all came from and how they started?  (Of course I skipped over the earlier Apples and Tandy’s attempt at PC greatness, the 5.25 floppies and 3.5s that don’t exist anymore, etc).  Is it just a simple fact that “PC” now means IBM Compatible running Microsoft Windows and “Mac” means awesome computer that puts PCs (in this context) to shame?

I write this post on my 800MHz PowerPC G4 iMac with 768MB SDRAM that I bought used off of eBay and received January 14th, 2004.  It’s running 10.4.11 Tiger Mac OS X … It shipped with Jaguar (10.2) but the previous owner gave me Panther (10.3) which I had also purchased separately.

I now run 2 MacBook Pros, a 17 and a 15 both with Snow Leopard (10.6) and a Dell Mini running Leopard (10.5).  I bought 10.5 for the Dell (Family version) and tried to install it on the G4 PPC and that was a no go for processors under 866MHz and Snow is Intel only.  It took the Intel version of the Mac (and OSX) before I was able to lose Microsoft completely.  Whatever the mixture of technologies came together, that’s the case for me.  The iMac didn’t get me there in 2004, it took the MacBook Pro in 2008, 4 and a half years later.

I don’t run any emulation software to run MS-Windows virtually, and I don’t utilize BootCamp.   There is absolutely nothing Microsoft on my Macs at all.  It’s wonderful.  The 15″ came with Microsoft Office and I figured I would check it out.  When I loaded Word, it said it wanted to update and I said sure.  The words “Running Microsoft Update” came up on my screen and I freaked, I blew away the HD and installed my purchased Leopard from DVD.  I wanted no remnant of a Microsoft product on my Mac.

So!  Once you go Mac, you never go back.  I think this is the case for anyone that seriously uses a computer for computing and not just web browsing and email.  What do you think?

I promise …

… if I ever get huge or I ever have any reason to have support people on staff, I will not out-source it to foreigners who take forever reciting their scripts over and over …  I don’t know if it’s by design or not to frustrate you into accepting the way it is or what, but I am happy just to be off the phone now …  Common sense?!  Be damned!

Snow Leopard Black Screen Fixed?

MacSnowLeopardBoxI ordered Snow Leopard from Amazon.Com and waited patiently for it to arrive.  I read up on some sites about things to watch for when I upgraded, etc., but nothing can prepare you for when you actually go and do it.

I opted to run Carbon Copy Cloner as suggested by one site found by Google to make a complete backup of the hard drive inside my MacBook Pro 17.  I tested by booting from the USB hard drive (hold down ALT at power up) to make sure I could “go back” if I had to by reversing the Carbon Copy Cloner step.

All of the FUD on the Internet was crap.  Everything just worked.  Until …

I had been working on my MacBook Pro 15 and the Snow Leopard blanked out (as my MBP17 normally does after about 20-30 minutes).  Working on another MacBook Pro is a suggested method for passing the time.  Yes, I suggest you have more than one Mac (if you’re cool enough).  As I do sometimes, I swipe my finger across the trackpad to bring back whatever is on the screen.  When I did this, the keyboard illuminated, but nothing shown on the screens (I have a 24″ external).  The screen was black!  I thought maybe the brightness went out of range and pressed the “f2″ key to bring it up.  I see the dialog for the brightness level, but there’s nothing on the screen.  I see the backlight getting brighter, but the screen is black … nothing there.  I try the volume and that shows on the 24” (which is set as the main display).  I Google on the MBP15 and find that people close their cover and open to a working Mac.  After I wake from sleep, moving the mouse I see it as the spinning beach ball that it is.  I hold down the power button to power off the Mac, there is no other choice.

Turn the MacBook Pro 17 on again and I have a working Snow Leopard.  All the things that “they” said didn’t work work for me.  I installed the 10.6.1 update and iTunes 9.  So everything is up to date.  It happens again, same symptoms.  Black screens, can see volume and brightness dialogs when keys are hit, no mouse until after I sleep and wake to spinning beach ball mouse with black screens.

Google searching brings up black screen during the install, and some similar to my problem, but not all the same.  Some blame just on the install blanking and they can see images on their screen with no backlight.  I guess they’re fine after they upgrade cause I see no follow ups.  I see more and more people blaming things having to do with the video or their video card.  Some it’s playing games and some it’s running VLC …  So I decided, mine “hangs” when the computer screen sleeps (that’s SCREEN, my MacBook Pro never sleeps), so I think *screen saver!*

While the computer is running, I click on the Apple, go to System Preferences… into Desktop & Screen Saver.  Immediately, spinning beach ball.  Aha!  I can Force Quit System Preferences until I can get in there and click on the first screen saver I can click on to change it.  What was selected when it hung was a directory “Screen Savers” … I don’t know where it came from – only thing I can think of was a shareware copy of that Aqua Marine fish tank-like screen saver that I never ended up buying.  I’ve been using Flurry forever (and that was my first thought when I thought it might be OpenGL or something, which never worked on my KDE installs on cheap PC hardware) and thought that might have been hanging the computer’s video card or something.

So far so good, I will update if the longer the screen sleep gives different results.  Here’s hoping this helped someone.

October Macworld Mac Virus FUD

October-MacworldAs part of the package of the purchase of my new Mac, I was offered a subscription to Macworld.  I agreed to the subscription and then offered to extend it at a very low price, so I did …

Each month I browse through the issue quickly.  Sometimes I find things that help me with my daily Mac computing or software that I may have otherwise not been aware existed.  There is also iPhone stuff periodically and reviews of peripheral hardware.

The Mac vs. PC controversy exists.  No matter what.  There’s the John Hodgman & Justin Long commercials and Microsoft’s commercials saving money buying a PC stuff.  I’ve gone through the Linux vs. Microsoft stuff too, just so happens I choose FreeBSD (why I like the Mac so much). There should be a distinction that we’re talking about a PC running MS-Windows.  A PC running FreeBSD is solid as a rock.

BUT!  Macworld … keep it real … There’s no reason to start spreading FUD about the Mac and viruses.  In two articles (in an issue that targets saving money utilizing your Mac as well as after the purchase of your Mac), Jason Snell and Dan Frakes mention the expense of viruses and it’s simply not true.  It’s not an added expense to the PC, nor the Mac.

I’ve been computing since 1984, and I’ve never spent money on virus software.  The BBS I started in 1990 used McAffe’s virus protection, and it was always free to use and download for BBS Sysops, and I think it was free to end users as well (I may still have an old copy on an old machine and I can look that up).  Anyway, through the early years running PC-DOS and MS-DOS, I simply didn’t run stuff I didn’t know where it came from, and there was always some form of a free piece of Virus Software, now being called Anti-Virus software.

Regardless, I just wanted to post this since it’s simply not true, there is no expense in the Anti-Virus market (or just about any other) if you take the time and know where to look.  These softwares offer free daily updates to virus signatures as well, so no subscription to pay for.  They’re normally much more up to date than any of the pay subscriptions as well.

FREE MS-Windows Anti-Virus Software called AVG.

FREE Mac (and all others) Anti-Virus software called ClamAV.

It’s already a fact that any PC sucks if it has some version of MS-Windows on it, you don’t have to make stuff up.

Going Mac, one person at a time …

imacSo my brother Tom calls me one night frustrated as heck because he can’t make a copy of a DVD.  A simple thing, pop a DVD into the computer and click “Copy”.  It’s of his performance at a show, and he wants to make copies for himself and the rest of the members of the band.  He’s been trying Windows machines and utilizing Nero.  I think he had purchased a copy of Nero, but it wasn’t cooperating.  He then tried using a trial version from their web site that would be fully functional, just slow (write @ 1X or something).  It may be that he purchased Nero, and that was on his old PC which was in storage and he thought he might go get that to get the job done.  Regardless, no matter how far he got, the copy was not happening.

I told him to stop over, and I would make the copy no problem.  I have a Macbook Pro and a Windows PC where I was, so no matter what, we’d make a copy.  I ended up using a trial version of Toast I got with Cubase 5.  But even so, I would have tried the FREE Mac software Burn if Toast hadn’t stepped up.  It was a click, “Copy” and it asked how many copies you wanted.

While we waited for the process to complete, Tom reiterated his DVD copying experience and frustrations.  He was to the point where he was going to go out and buy a new computer to make this work!  He thought maybe his PC was too old for such a task as copying a DVD.  I said, “If you’re going to buy a new computer, you should buy a Mac.”  I think that was Monday, August 17th.  I saw Tom a week later, Monday, August 24th and he told me he bought an iMac.  He was going back to the store to have a one on one session with someone who knows Logic.  I told him Cubase 5 or Digital Performer 6 were good choices as well … and you can always play with GarageBand.

I hardly ever touch a Microsoft Windows machine anymore unless I have to.  All my servers are FreeBSD and the Mac software (OS X) is FreeBSD based.  The interface is so much more intuitive and I venture to say “cleaner” …  It’s much more of a pleasure to develop web sites and programs on and mix music as well … Come on Windows people, once you go Mac, you never go back!  Or so they say … but who are “they” actually?  Probably a bunch of satisfied Mac users! =)

Verizon Sucks

verizonI see I have a lot of Verizon visitors and I figured I would express my displeasure with Verizon just for you. You should be flattered.

#1 reason why Verizon sucks?  I can’t send “verizon.net” people email from my mail server.  I spent an entire day trying to communicate this to Verizon support and I got absolutely nowhere.  The people with the accents kept asking for my Verizon email address or my DSL phone number no matter how many times I told them I wasn’t a Verizon customer.  I asked for the phone number for their NOC who handled their mail server.  Confusion.

Their web interface doesn’t work either.  I am not using my mail server to browse web sites and use their white-listing page.  My mail server is in a dark server room dutifully sending and receiving email 24 hours a day.  Fighting SPAM and Viruses and doing a damn good job of it, but Verizon won’t accept my email.  I receive the email from the nice web interface telling me that everything is okay, and when I reply to that email, my email is returned 7 days later never being able to make an SMTP connection with Verizon.Net’s servers.

I resorted to opening a ticket with my upstream provider, and they had no luck in helping me.  They suggested I reach out to Verizon customers and have them complain that they can’t receive email from me.  Can’t say as I know any Verizon.Net customers, nor could I email them asking them such a favor.  They were able to telnet to Verizon’s listed MX and issue simple telnet commands, so they assume that any of their IPs would be able to do the same.  Well I try from my mail server and other machines, and all I do is time out.  I just sent anther letter to my provider, but it’s Verizon that needs to provide me support.

Anyone from Verizon, please respond to this post and help me deliver mail to your customers from my customers.  Thanks.

#2 reason why Verizon sucks?  They advertise FIOS constantly on my TV, but it isn’t available in my area.  Comcast dominates the Philadelphia area and Verizon finally won against the powers that be to start installing FIOS in the Philadelphia area.  Where do they start?  In the suburbs.  If I could get FIOS to my location, my connection speed will increase 100 times and I will pay absolutely no more money per month for my connection.  That’s substantial for me.

I just got Comcast Internet installed at a new location and it blows away my high priced connection.  It is an eye opener, but Verizon has been teasing me for so long.  I need new copper run for my local loop, but an insider told me that they won’t run new copper, they want to install FIOS – well it’s not available in my area, and I have to deal with outages and bounces … That makes Verizon suck!

Bottom line, hey – Verizon, install me some FIOS and let me deliver email to your mail server, and we’re golden!  Thanks again …